Andouillettes? No, Thank You

My trip to France in 1979 opened my eyes to a whole new world, especially with regard to French cooking. Raised in a humble family with very few extravagances, we rarely splurged on anything, including food. Madame Dubois, my patron at the Château de Montclair, and her mother, Madame Moulon, introduced me to some of the best meals I’ve ever eaten. There were, however a few dishes I would rather forget.

“Le Petit Prince” Returns

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My husband and I recently moved to a smaller home in Arizona and this required lots of downsizing. As I rummaged through old boxes, sorting “keep” piles and “give away” piles, I stumbled across my copy of Le Petit Prince from my stay in France in 1980. My heart lurched as I picked up the well-used book, turned to the first page and discovered  an inscription — long forgotten — from my love interest in France. 

A Delectable Memory From 1979

My diary from 1979 recounts my adventures living and working as an au pair at the Château de Montclair, in France. Most of my diary entries revolved around my relationships with the family, but on occasion, I included recipes of favorite drinks or meals I shared with the family. 

Luscious Libations from the Loire Valley

When I worked as an au pair in the Loire Valley in 1979, I sampled many fabulous wines, from Sauvignons to Cabernets. Once, as I strolled through the farmers market in the Loire Valley, I sampled unfermented new wine. Here is an excerpt from my memoir, French Illusions: My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley, chronicling that event.

Award Contests – Yea or Nay

I’ve entered my memoir, French Illusions: My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley, in two contests.

In the spring of 2014, I paid $89 and submitted my book to the Readers’ Favorite Book Awards Contest.Later that year, they notified me that I won the Bronze Medal in the “Non-Fiction Travel Category.” There was no monetary prize for this award.

Three Enticing Walkways in France

Are you planning a trip to France? Do you love to amble through quaint villages or stroll along interesting walkways? Are you hesitating because you don’t know which part of the country to choose? Don’t worry, in France there is no wrong choice. In almost every town and in every corner of this fascinating country, you’ll find enticing paths to follow and each one offers a different set of delights.

What! You Want to Become an Au Pair?

“What! You Want to Become an Au Pair?” These outbursts from family and friends were common in 1979. The introduction in my memoir, French Illusions: My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley, reveals the reasons behind this decision, but here’s a recap.

Fabien the Dog

Several readers have asked about the dog who lived at the Château de Montclair during my stint as an au pair in 1979. Fabien was an endearing, scruffy, shepherd mix who lived outdoors, except in the winter months. The children, especially Antoine, loved the dog, but most everyone else either ignored him or shoved him aside. Some days, he was a “hazard” and this excerpt from my memoir, French Illusions: My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley depicts this sentiment perfectly. In this scene, Marie (a domestic helper at the chateau) and I are tending to the laundry.

A Love Affair with French Bridges

In my opinion, France has some of the most remarkable bridges in the world. Here are four of my favorites, three of which are located in “The City of Light.”

Remembering the Lively Town of Tours

In 1979, when I was twenty-one, I traveled abroad and worked as an au pair for a wealthy family in the Loire Valley. The small town of Songais where I lived was charming, but I was also drawn to the nearby larger town of Tours. Shortly after my arrival, Madame and I drove to Tours and she helped me sign up for classes at the Université François Rablelais. I had lots of questions about the city, so on the way back to the car, she paused at a tourist office and obtained a brochure detailing some of the highlights of Tours. Here is an excerpt from my memoir, French Illusions: My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley.